Support groups for people bereaved by suicide
Our Side by Side support groups will give you the opportunity on Zoom to meet others in Cumbria who have lost someone to suicide and share your experiences and feelings.
Each support group is run by two trained facilitators from Every Life Matters and the groups run once a week over six consecutive weeks, with each session lasting for 90 minutes. There are a maximum of seven participants in each group and sessions are free of charge. You may attend our support groups even if you are already receiving other types of support from us or other organisations.
We suggest you join a group where you can attend at least five of the six sessions to help you get the most out of the experience. Please note that all participants must be able to attend the first session.
To register your interest in joining a Side by Side group on Zoom, please visit our ‘Register’ page.
Our Side by Side groups are based on the Facing the Future service developed by Samaritans and Cruse Bereavement Support to help support people who have been bereaved by suicide. Our group facilitators have been trained by Samaritans and Cruse to run these group in Cumbria.
What are the groups like?
Below are two short videos explaining what Side by Side groups are like. The top video is by Rosie, a Samaritans facilitator, with the bottom one by David, a former participant.
Benefits of attending the groups
People who are grieving because of suicide can feel very alone, suffering from a kind of loss they feel others may not understand. Even with supportive family and friends, participants find it helpful to talk with others who have experienced a similar loss. Participants have told us how helpful it has been to be in a safe environment with people dealing exclusively with the same issue.
Participants tell us they feel safe in the group. They’re free to express themselves with others who are also grieving as a result of suicide.
The group supports one another to come to conclusions that often lead to acceptance and increased hope for facing the future. Everyone who has taken part in a group has said they would recommend groups to others.
Participants feel they are listened to in a respectful environment. Even when people are sharing things they may never have said out loud before, there is a non-judgemental and supportive atmosphere.
You must be over 18 to join a group and have lost someone to suicide over three months ago. Many people experience shock when they lose someone and it can take several months before they are able to share their experiences and hear the experiences of others in a group setting.
Each group will include people with differing experiences, circumstances, backgrounds and relationship to the person who has died.
Experience shows that people get the most out of the sessions if they don’t know their fellow group members before the group starts. This means it’s not possible to participate in a support group with a family member or friend.
You can register your interest in attending our support groups by completing the online form on the ‘Register’ page.
For more information about Side by Side, please take a look at our FAQs below. Alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07588 016 166 and leave a message. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens after I register? How committed am I at this point?
Once you register your interest we will give you a call using the information set out on your registration form to have a discussion with you about the groups.
We will confirm the information that you have provided, explain how the groups work and answer any questions that you may have. We will send you a confirmation email which will contain the dates of the group, the Zoom login details as well as the contact information for your facilitators.
If you then feel the support groups are not right for you at this time, we will signpost you to other sources of support and remove your details from our system.
Will the people facilitating the group know how I feel? Have they lost someone to suicide as well?
At least one of the two Every Life Matters staff and volunteers facilitating the Side by Side support groups may will have been bereaved by suicide, however the focus of the group will be the experience of the participants. All facilitators will have received full training on how to support those bereaved by suicide.
Is what I say in the group private?
All information discussed in the group sessions is confidential to the group and no personal information is written down during the sessions. However, please note there may be instances where we may have to break confidentiality if we feel you or someone else is in danger.
Can I attend a group on behalf of someone else?
Supporting someone bereaved by suicide can be very hard, but attendance of the groups is experiential which means the bereaved person needs to be there to benefit from them. If you want to get support for someone else, please pass this information on to them and encourage them to contact us directly.
Can I bring a friend with me?
The groups are closed and only members can attend, so a friend cannot attend the group with you. We know that attending a support group can feel scary but our facilitators are there to create a safe and non-judgemental environment that is comfortable for everyone. It is important that all group members feel they are with people who have similar experiences.
I and a family member/friend have both been bereaved by suicide. Can we attend the same group?
We don’t put members of the same family or two unrelated people who knew the same person who took their own life, in the same group. Our experience shows that if friends or family members attend the same support group they might not be able to express themselves fully, for fear of upsetting their friend or loved one.
My group doesn’t begin for a while. Is there anyone I can speak to now?
If you need to contact someone while you are waiting to join a group, there are people out there for you speak to.
Cruse Bereavement Support National Helpline is open for information, advice and emotional support, from 9.30am to 5pm Monday and Friday and 9.30am to 8pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The number is 0808 808 1677 and is free to call.
Survivors of Bereavement By Suicide (SoBS) have launched an online forum. This is an online community that offers peer-to-peer support for survivors of bereavement by suicide. Details about the forum can be found here.
Samaritans’ free to call number, 116 123, is for people who are struggling to cope. This number is free to call from both landlines and mobiles and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Can I join a group half way through?
No, after the first session no one else can join the group.
What if I can’t make all of the group sessions?
We suggest you to join a group where you are able to attend at least five of the six sessions as you will get much more out of the experience this way. Multiple absences can upset the dynamic of the group and can be unsettling for other group members. You must attend the first session.
If you miss more than one session you will be asked to review your commitment to the group and whether this is the right time for you to attend.
I am unable to make a group session, who should I contact?
Prior to your group’s first session we will send you the name and mobile number of one of your facilitators. In the event that you are unable to make a session for any reason you would send a message to your facilitator. If you do not turn up for a session without notifying us beforehand we will give you a call to see if you’re okay and still wish to participate in the group.
What if I don’t get on with other people in the group?
Our facilitators have been trained to create a non-judgemental environment that is safe for everyone in the group. However, if you have any difficulties with another participant we encourage you to email or call one of the facilitators after the group session so that we can find a solution.
When the group finishes, what support is there for me?
As well as the organisations listed above, each group will have details of other organisations that may be of help.
What do I do if I have a complaint?
Is the service evaluated? How do you know if you are making a difference?
After your group ends, you will receive an email from us including a link so you can give us feedback on your experience of the group. This feedback is anonymous in order to encourage everyone to give their opinion freely, and we structure the questions so that thanks to your input we can understand what impact the groups have had, evaluate different aspects of how the groups are run and learn from your comments to improve the service for future groups.